There are many ways for trucking companies to save money on fuel. Some of these tactics require new equipment and capital investments. Other improvements simply involve a new mindset. Even making a few changes to your team’s driving habits may cut your fleet’s fuel consumption by as much as 30%.
For trucking fleets, saving on fuel requires a comprehensive, strategic approach. Many mid-sized trucking companies have full-time fuel managers. The largest fleets have entire subsidiaries dedicated to reducing fuel consumption.
Even if you only have a few employees, you need to designate someone to manage your company’s fuel use. One of your team members should do this on at least a part-time basis. Another option is outsourcing the work to a fuel management consultant. Otherwise, your fuel-saving efforts will be inconsistent and less effective.The fuel manager's responsibilities should include these functions:
Drafting a fuel plan
This is the playbook for reducing your company’s fuel consumption. It should contain detailed information about fuel-saving tactics you intend to implement. Some of those tactics will involve spending money, like adding side skirts to your fleet or buying fuel-efficient tires. The fuel plan should balance that spending against the money you expect to save through fuel efficiency.
Your fuel plan can take a strategic look at what lanes your company drives and how it can avoid pumping gas in states with higher fuel taxes. The plan should establish projections for saving money on fuel on a monthly or annual basis. The goal of your fuel plan is to improve your company’s bottom line by spending less on gas.
Implementation and training
For a fuel plan to succeed, everyone in your company needs to adopt a fuel-savings mindset. The fuel manager will be responsible for training drivers on more efficient driving habits. He or she will work with your company’s vendors to find the best prices on diesel. Additionally, your company can motivate drivers by offering six-month bonuses to the ones who save the most on fuel.
An effective fuel manager thoroughly examines how your company purchases its fuel. The fuel manager looks for ways to save money and improve efficiency. For example, some companies that buy their diesel at truck stops might be better served by purchasing bulk fuel or working with a mobile fuel company. The fuel manager should also research the numerous fuel card programs in the marketplace and join the one that best fits your fleet’s operations. In addition to fuel savings, many fuel cards offer discounts on tires, maintenance, lodging and other services critical to your trucking business.
Your company needs to regularly check its balance sheet to ensure the fuel plan is leading to significant savings. The fuel manager should track your company’s spending on a monthly basis to make sure it is meeting goals set in the fuel plan.
Manufacturers and researchers are constantly offering innovations that promise greater fuel savings. Your fuel manager needs to stay on top of new products, truck modifications and driving tactics that could improve your company’s bottom line. He or she also needs to take a critical eye to these improvements, as the savings they generate may not be worth your company’s investment.